Networking and properly preparing for it can be the biggest investment in your career. During these uncertain times while most of us are at home, time is your most valuable resource. What better way to spend it than by improving your networking skills and building your connections? Here are 5 handy tips to jumpstart your career.    

1. Before you begin, look to where you want to be  

  While it may be scary to think about where you’ll be years from now, it’s important to set high goals for yourself when growing your network. You need to look to where you want to be. Get out of your comfort zone and imagine where your strengths and passions can take you. Browse job websites, LinkedIn, and ask close connections to learn about the available career paths out there. It’s also good to look at other industries and the top leaders in each field. Reading about how some CEOs started their careers from small gigs to global empires can inspire you to think big and pursue new projects.   

2. Get to know yourself 

Create an elevator pitch that is a good summary of you and what you do. It’s very handy to have a powerful, well-prepared presentation of yourself, especially if you’re the type to get nervous when talking to new people. Your connection’s first impression of you is important – so be prepared to show your best self! This is also a great way to practice improving your public speaking skills so that when the right opportunity comes, whether it’s a spontaneous interview or coffee chat, you can take the most advantage of it.  

3. Cultivate your professional network 

In today’s job field, it can be difficult to get an offer without having a connection or a referral. More than ever, networking is a crucial part of advancing to the next level of your career. The best way to begin is to look at your existing connections, mainly your family and friends. Familiarize yourself with your network and find someone in a role where you want to work in the future. Send them an email briefly introducing yourself and ask if they’re available for a quick phone call about their experience.  

4. Be effective with words and listen carefully 

People love to talk about themselves. You can take this opportunity to learn more about what they do and what their interests are. The best way to build your relationship with them is by actively listening to their story and asking thoughtful questions. This will give you a good sense of a potential job you see yourself doing, and definitely help you in any future interactions and interviews! 

5. Invest in relationships 

Every relationship needs proper maintenance, and your professional network is no exception.

Two key traits to building a lasting relationship are honesty and sincerity. Connections are more likely to help someone who is friendly and genuinely interested in learning from them. Potential employers are looking for someone they can work with, not only someone who just wants a job. What will make you stand out as a prime connection is if you put in the time and effort to get to know the other party’s company and backstory and regularly check in with them. A great way to keep connected is by engaging in new content that they post or following news related to their industry. Staying connected shows that you care and have knowledgeable insight, and can increase your chances of a recommendation.  

Networking is a powerful tool that can move you up to the next step in your career. It’s a process that requires pre-planning, constant practice, and maintenance, but is also a necessary skill to grow a large, quality network. For more information on how you can successfully grow your network, keep checking back with Moves for tips to secure your future. 

Start today, and invest in your future.  

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